Thursday 10 October 2013

The Masterplan

I live in the Lake District. It as an area of outstanding natural beauty, and many thousands of people come here for their holidays to enjoy that timeless natural beauty.

Which is, of course, bogus.

The local landscape, wonderful though it be, is a result, inter alia, of many human interventions, and many of them quite recent.  Whether it is the clearing of the fells to create commons for grazing the huge numbers of sheep artificially imported, the damming of valleys to create reservoirs that are 'read' as lakes, the construction of dry stone walls running over the fells in improbable lines, the placing of small and picturesque villages here and there; it is, as I say, a fallacy to regard this simply as timeless natural beauty.

So when a powerful bureaucracy is created, with a mandate to restore the natural beauty, and simultaneously increase visitor access, to throw it open to the whole country as a place of recreation and inspiration... well a few things could result.

On the one hand, you could have a slow and sensitive process, looking to replace a broadwood plantation here, remove a derelict concrete industrial building there, improve the frequency of trains and buses.

Or you could have a master plan that was more radical: given that we now have the technical expertise and the construction methodology, we could go back to basics.  Perhaps Scafell Pike and Scafell should not be so close together: the views would be better from each if there were separated by a half mile or so.  So let's do that.

We need more parking: so let's drain Haweswater (which is, after all, a relatively recently created reservoir) and park cars there: there would be no loss of historic natural amenity.

We need better access, so let's take a spur off the M6 at Shap and drive it through the fells to Keswick: that will open the place up to thousands more.

Of course, some die-hard traditionalists will resist, but the thousands of extra people pouring into the area to enjoy it will more than justify that.

And doubtless, in the short term, many thousands more would come: to see the artificial peak at Scafell, encouraged by the ease of parking in the Haweswater NCP, and the speed with which they could get to Keswick, and thus climb Catbells and walk around Derwentwater.

In the longer term, I suspect, the numbers would dwindle: the national park was opened to all, but the means used would mean that it lost its appeal...

Fortunately, no such Masterplan exists: the time for that was the 1960s and 70s and we were saved from such folly.

I write this because I have just finished reading the first section of Bugnini's apologia: The Reform of the Liturgy, 1948 - 1975.

He describes how the Masterplan was put together and the bureaucracy created; and just in time for the 1960s and 70s.

I will blog more on my reflections soon, but the overwhelming feeling is that once that bureaucracy was in place, with the ideology of opening the liturgy up for full participation, and the power and self-belief that anything that stood in the way could be replaced, destruction, car parks and motorways were more or less inevitable.

Pictures Top: Scafell Pike; centre: Haweswater; bottom: Catbells and Derwent Water


Richard Collins said...

A good analogy and, sadly, a true account of what Bugnini set in place.

Ttony said...

Some people had seen that in the cities it had become possible to destroy existing buildings, of whatever antiquity, at will. Nobody expected, however, that it could be considered even as a possibility in the natural world.

Except for those who did, and who rejected the differentiation between what man had constructed for himself, and what man had accepted as "just there".